Daily Archives: January 30, 2016

With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change: Fred Pearce

Fred Pearce has been writing about climate change for eighteen years, and the more he learns, the worse things look. Where once scientists were concerned about gradual climate change, now more and more of them fear we will soon be dealing with abrupt change resulting from triggering hidden tipping points.

Even President Bush’s top climate modeler, Jim Hansen, warned in 2005 that “we are on the precipice of climate system tipping points beyond which there is no redemption.”

As Pearce began working on this book, normally cautious scientists beat a path to his door to tell him about their fears and their latest findings. With Speed and Violence tells the stories of these scientists and their work—from the implications of melting permafrost in Siberia and the huge river systems of meltwater beneath the icecaps of Greenland and Antarctica to the effects of the “ocean conveyor” and a rare molecule that runs virtually the entire cleanup system for the planet.

Above all, the scientists told him what they’re now learning about the speed and violence of past natural climate change-and what it portends for our future. With Speed and Violence is the most up-to-date and readable book yet about the growing evidence for global warming and the large climatic effects it may unleash.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Advertisements

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right: Jane Mayer

Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.

The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet. Their core beliefs—that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom—are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws.

The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch, whose father made his fortune in part by building oil refineries in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The patriarch later was a founding member of the John Birch Society, whose politics were so radical it believed Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights.

When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency. Richard Mellon Scaife, the mercurial heir to banking and oil fortunes, had the brilliant insight that most of their political activities could be written off as tax-deductible “philanthropy.”

These organizations were given innocuous names such as Americans for Prosperity. Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement, abetted mightily by the Citizens United decision—a case conceived of by legal advocates funded by the network.
The political operatives the network employs are disciplined, smart, and at times ruthless. Mayer documents instances in which people affiliated with these groups hired private detectives to impugn whistle-blowers, journalists, and even government investigators. And their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation, once far outside the mainstream and still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Meaningful environmental, labor, finance, and tax reforms have been stymied.

Jane Mayer spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews-including with several sources within the network-and scoured public records, private papers, and court proceedings in reporting this book. In a taut and utterly convincing narrative, she traces the byzantine trail of the billions of dollars spent by the network and provides vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy.
Dark Money is a book that must be read by anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.

See also:

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming: Mark Bowen

From acclaimed writer and physicist Mark Bowen, Censoring Science tells the true story of the Bush administration’s censorship of the world’s preeminent climatologist, and the science behind global warming that they do not want you to know.

The facts don’t lie:
• 2005 was the warmest year since the invention of the thermometer.
• 2006 is on track to become the hottest year ever recorded in the United States.
• The six hottest years on record have occurred in the last eight years, and the twenty-two hottest years on record have occurred in the last twenty-six years.

Preeminent climatologist and leading NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen has been studying climate for over three decades. It was his testimony to a Senate committee in 1988 that first brought the threat of global warming to the world’s attention. In January 2006, news broke that the Bush administration had been attempting to censor Dr. Hansen—obscuring his message and suppressing the vast body of his scientific work, which unequivocally demonstrates the reality and immense danger of global warming.

Now, for the first time and with unfiltered access, writer and physicist Mark Bowen finally tells the exclusive story of Hansen’s decades-long battle to bring the truth about global warming to light. Censoring Science illuminates the real science behind global warming and maintains that we can still prevent environmental disaster, while both strengthening our economy and our national security. In the tradition of Ron Suskind’s blockbuster bestseller, The Price of Loyalty, Censoring Science exposes the truth behind the administration’s spin doctors, and shares the inside story of one of the most important and influential scientists of our time.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

The End of Nature: Bill McKibben

Reissued on the tenth anniversary of its publication, this classic work on our environmental crisis features a new introduction by the author, reviewing both the progress and ground lost in the fight to save the earth.

This impassioned plea for radical and life-renewing change is today still considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies. McKibben’s argument that the survival of the globe is dependent on a fundamental, philosophical shift in the way we relate to nature is more relevant than ever.

McKibben writes of our earth’s environmental cataclysm, addressing such core issues as the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer. His new introduction addresses some of the latest environmental issues that have risen during the 1990s. The book also includes an invaluable new appendix of facts and figures that surveys the progress of the environmental movement.

More than simply a handbook for survival or a doomsday catalog of scientific prediction, this classic, soulful lament on Nature is required reading for nature enthusiasts, activists, and concerned citizens alike.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Becoming Aware of Our Species

Robert-J-Lifton01/14/2016 02:12 pm ET | Updated Jan 14, 2016

  • Robert Jay Lifton Author, ‘Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir’ and ‘The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide’ Dr. Lifton is author of The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide and Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China. His most recent book is Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir. Robert Jay Lifton is a lecturer in psychiatry at Columbia University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at The City University of New York.

Two threats endanger humankind: nuclear weapons and global warming. These same threats also enhance our awareness that all of us, as human beings, are members of a single species. That enhanced awareness might well be the most important outcome of the recent Paris climate meetings.

In 1985, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War had delegations from more than 60 countries when it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Within that movement, we spoke of common security, in which the security of any contending nuclear power is dependent on the security of one’s adversary. Soviet and American delegates would express this principle in gallows-humor toasts to each other: “To your health and that of your people and your leaders. Because if you die, I die. If you survive, I survive.”

There is a parallel concept in climate-change discourse, that of our common home, as expressed by Pope Francis in his encyclical letter on climate, quoting his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. To be sure, different cultural groups have lived under highly varied geographical and climate conditions, and people in certain areas — the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, Bangladesh in South Asia — are now most devastatingly vulnerable to climate disaster. But that does not mean that the rest of us who live in places like North America and Europe are immune to extreme climate suffering. Climate change by definition is planetary.

The evolutionary truth is that our extraordinary capacity for adaptation has enabled the human species to make the entire planet our habitat. Now, under present human-caused global warming, it is painfully clear that emissions of advanced industrial countries have threatened the very habitability of Pacific Islands and South Asian areas; and that the destruction of Amazon rainforests, whether by natives or industrial outsiders, has much to do with lethal pollution in Beijing and droughts in California and Texas. The point is that the climate change now occurring is an event of our entire species, and one that we have lethally imposed on most other species as well.

….(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

History of Native America before European Colonization


Free Public DOCUMENTARY Library

Published on Nov 6, 2015

In the United States, Native Americans. and Canada. First Nations, are considered to be people whose pre-Columbian ancestors were indigenous to the lands within the nation’s modern boundaries. These peoples were composed of numerous distinct tribes, bands, and ethnic groups, and many of these groups survive intact today as sovereign nations. The terms Native Americans use to refer to themselves vary regionally and generationally, with many older Native Americans self-identifying as “Indians” or “American Indians”, while younger Native Americans often identify as “Indigenous”. Which terms should be used to refer to Native Americans has at times been controversial. The term “Native American” has been adopted by major newspapers and some academic groups, but has not traditionally included Native Hawaiians or certain Alaskan Natives, such as Aleut, Yup’ik, or Inuit peoples. Indigenous American peoples from Canada are known as First Nations.

Since the end of the 15th century, the migration of Europeans to the Americas has led to centuries of exchange and adjustment between Old and New World societies. Most Native American groups had historically lived as hunter-gatherer societies and preserved their histories by oral traditions and artwork, which has resulted in the first written sources on the conflict being authored by Europeans.

At the time of first contact, the indigenous cultures were quite different from those of the proto-industrial and mostly Christian immigrants. Some of the Northeastern and Southwestern cultures in particular were matrilineal and operated on a more collective basis than the Europeans were familiar with. The majority of Indigenous American tribes maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural lands for use of the entire tribe. Europeans at that time had patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual property rights with respect to land that were extremely different. The differences in cultures between the established Native Americans and immigrant Europeans, as well as shifting alliances among different nations in times of war, caused extensive political tension, ethnic violence, and social disruption. Even before the European settlement of what is now the United States, Native Americans suffered high fatalities from contact with European diseases spread throughout the Americas by the Spanish to which they had yet not acquired immunity. Smallpox epidemics are thought to have caused the greatest loss of life for indigenous populations, although estimates of the pre-Columbian population of what today constitutes the U.S. vary significantly, from 1 million to 18 million.

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, and their descendants. Pueblos indígenas (indigenous peoples) is a common term in Spanish-speaking countries. Aborigen (aboriginal/native) is used in Argentina, whereas “Amerindian” is used in Quebec and The Guianas but not commonly in other countries. Indigenous peoples are commonly known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, which include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Indigenous peoples of the United States are commonly known as Native Americans or American Indians, and Alaska Natives.

According to the prevailing New World migration model, migrations of humans from Asia (in particular North Asia) to the Americas took place via Beringia, a land bridge which connected the two continents across what is now the Bering Strait. The majority of experts agree that the earliest migration via Beringia took place at least 13,500 years ago, with disputed evidence that people had migrated into the Americas much earlier, up to 40,000 years ago. These early Paleo-Indians spread throughout the Americas, diversifying into many hundreds of culturally distinct nations and tribes. According to the oral histories of many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, they have been living there since their genesis, described by a wide range of creation myths.

Application of the term “Indian” originated with Christopher Columbus, who, in his search for Asia, thought that he had arrived in the East Indies. The Americas came to be known as the “West Indies”, a name still used to refer to the islands of the Caribbean sea. This led to the names “Indies” and “Indian”, which implied some kind of racial or cultural unity among the aboriginal peoples of the Americas. This unifying concept, codified in law, religion, and politics, was not originally accepted by indigenous peoples but has been embraced by many over the last two centuries. Even though the term “Indian” often does not include the Aleuts, Inuit, or Yupik peoples, these groups are considered indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

A Native History of Early America: An Overlooked Perspective on the U.S. (2002)


The Film Archives

Published on Jan 29, 2016

In the United States, Native Americans are considered to be people whose pre-Columbian ancestors were indigenous to the lands within the nation’s modern boundaries. These peoples were composed of numerous distinct tribes, bands, and ethnic groups, and many of these groups survive intact today as sovereign nations. The terms Native Americans use to refer to themselves vary regionally and generationally, with many older Native Americans self-identifying as “Indians” or “American Indians”, while younger Native Americans often identify as “Indigenous”. Which terms should be used to refer to Native Americans has at times been controversial. The term “Native American” has been adopted by major newspapers and some academic groups, but has not traditionally included Native Hawaiians or certain Alaskan Natives, such as Aleut, Yup’ik, or Inuit peoples. Indigenous American peoples from Canada are known as First Nations.

Since the end of the 15th century, the migration of Europeans to the Americas has led to centuries of exchange and adjustment between Old and New World societies. Most Native American groups had historically lived as hunter-gatherer societies and preserved their histories by oral traditions and artwork, which has resulted in the first written sources on the conflict being authored by Europeans.[3]

At the time of first contact, the indigenous cultures were quite different from those of the proto-industrial and mostly Christian immigrants. Some of the Northeastern and Southwestern cultures in particular were matrilineal and operated on a more collective basis than the Europeans were familiar with. The majority of Indigenous American tribes maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural lands for use of the entire tribe. Europeans at that time had patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual property rights with respect to land that were extremely different. The differences in cultures between the established Native Americans and immigrant Europeans, as well as shifting alliances among different nations in times of war, caused extensive political tension, ethnic violence, and social disruption. Even before the European settlement of what is now the United States, Native Americans suffered high fatalities from contact with European diseases spread throughout the Americas by the Spanish to which they had yet not acquired immunity. Smallpox epidemics are thought to have caused the greatest loss of life for indigenous populations, although estimates of the pre-Columbian population of what today constitutes the U.S. vary significantly, from 1 million to 18 million.[4][5]

After the thirteen colonies revolted against Great Britain and established the United States of America, President George Washington and Henry Knox conceived of the idea of “civilizing” Native Americans in preparation for assimilation as U.S. citizens.[6][7][8][9][10] Assimilation (whether voluntary, as with the Choctaw,[11][12] or forced) became a consistent policy through American administrations. During the 19th century, the ideology of manifest destiny became integral to the American nationalist movement. Expansion of European-American populations to the west after the American Revolution resulted in increasing pressure on Native American lands, warfare between the groups, and rising tensions. In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, authorizing the government to relocate Native Americans from their homelands within established states to lands west of the Mississippi River, accommodating European-American expansion. This resulted in the ethnic cleansing of many tribes, with the brutal, forced marches coming to be known as The Trail of Tears.

As American expansion reached into the West, settler and miner migrants came into increasing conflict with the Great Basin, Great Plains, and other Western tribes. These were complex nomadic cultures based on (introduced) horse culture and seasonal bison hunting. They carried out resistance against United States incursion in the decades after the completion of the Civil War and the Transcontinental Railroad in a series of Indian Wars, which were frequent up until the 1890s but continued into the 20th century. Over time, the United States forced a series of treaties and land cessions by the tribes and established reservations for them in many western states. U.S. agents encouraged Native Americans to adopt European-style farming and similar pursuits, but European-American agricultural technology of the time was inadequate for often dry reservation lands, leading to mass starvation. In 1924, Native Americans who were not already U.S. citizens were granted citizenship by Congress.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice